Army of Two Review for PS3

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EA almost nails the co-op shooter
EA almost nails the co-op shooter

EA almost nails the co-op shooter

Army of Two is a brave step by EA. Despite being responsible for some of the most entertaining games released over the past few years the publisher still has a bad reputation with certain gamers, and Army of Two was looking to change that. As a brand new IP with a clear focus on cooperative gameplay we had high hopes, but for every moment where the ideas seem fresh, the gameplay feels awkward, often to the extent that the fundamental mechanics feel broken. You're certainly an army of two, but you might not want to see your partner again once you're finished.

With a plot revolving around soldiers for hire (mercenaries Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem), privatising the military, political hot spots and some backstabbing and revenge, Army of Two is set up pretty well. It's got all the ingredients needed of a solid action game, but it doesn't make the most of it. The plot seems patched together and is never all that engaging, the characters are hard to believe - mainly because they don't do enough that plays towards their different personalities - and the threat never seems as big as it's made out to be. Without the story to keep you playing, the gameplay has a lot resting on its shoulders.

Whether played with a real person (online or via split-screen) or an AI partner the game focuses heavily on what EA calls the Aggro system. A meter at the top of the screen shows who is generating the most aggro, and the enemies focus on that character. Taking the aggro is as simple as firing at an enemy location, or better still hitting enemies - the higher the aggro the redder the character becomes. The other character then becomes somewhat invisible to the enemy (to the extent that the game shows him as being slightly transparent), enabling him to sneak around the back of enemies to get a better shot - indeed, some enemies can only be downed by attacking from the rear.

For this to work you need to play the game as it wants to be played, which means sticking to cover and working as a team. Rather than using cover like in Gears of War or Rainbow Six Vegas, you simply move behind objects and peek out from the sides. The only snapping to cover is when you dive behind something. It feels a little fiddly at first, but you get used to it and it works - although you'll often think you're aiming directly at a target only to find you're shooting into a wall.

If you play by the rules the gameplay works, but problems arise far too often.

If you play by the rules the gameplay works, but problems arise far too often.

Problems quickly arise though. When everyone is playing by the rules - you're in cover or trying to flank the enemy and the enemy is a reasonable distance from you - the game ticks along, unspectacularly, but decently enough. You feel like you're having to use tactics to overcome them and it seems like a job well done by EA. But then someone will rush at you and the game falls apart at the seams. For trained soldiers these guys can't deal with close-quarters combat well at all.

The main problem is the camera, which isn't your traditional third-person shooter viewpoint, instead going for something like Splinter Cell where you can only strafe when using the slightly zoomed in aiming view. Unlike Splinter Cell, Army of Two throws an awful lot of enemies at you and you need to be able to aim and take them down quickly, often while moving. Trying to shoot anything while not using the aiming view makes a joke of the soldiers you're controlling, as they're almost incompetent and the turn speed when using the precision aim view is so slow that you're a dead duck if you're out in the open.

All it takes is one guy to get up close and you'll be a mess of aiming reticules and spinning camera angles, and if that guy happens to want to launch a rocket at your face from two metres (it does happen), you can wave goodbye to the world. Things aren't helped by an inability to easily spot where enemies are shooting you from. As is the norm, an on-screen red marker appears when you're hit, indicating the direction it came from, but in the heat of the battle - and with enemies ducking down behind cover all the time - it's almost impossible to spot them. It's made even worse when the screen is filled with red to indicate your ill health.

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User Comments

FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ NinetiesKid

Tom did this review and Will did the Kane and Lynch review, and you have to keep in mind that no matter how impartial reviewers strive to be a bit of bias will always creep in. (Tom might loathe EA, Will might have a penchant for robbing banks).

I think it's Famitsu that have four reviewers decide the score for a game and then give a total out of 40, I'd love to see the same sort of system in the western gaming press but it's basically four times the workload for reviewers so we make do with metacritic and gamerankings complied averages, which works just as well.

As for Army of Two, you only have to take a quick look at the sub forums over at XBox.com to realise that it might be worth a bit more research before parting with your money.
Posted 23:20 on 08 March 2008
NinetiesKid's Avatar

NinetiesKid

I really don't see what the critics hate about this game.. sure it's nothing too out of the ordinary but it's still an enjoyable game and very fun to play with a mate. The fact that VG gave Kane and Lynch a 7 and this a 6 I find strange as Kane and Lynch was just plain awful, no way is Ao2 worse than that!
Posted 22:48 on 08 March 2008
wyp100's Avatar

wyp100

http://www.penny-arcade.com/2008/03/07/#22410

"How is the game? In cooperative mode, it's "alright.""

"The game itself is often strange in its pacing, leaping to unnecessary cutscenes of the characters opening doors, constantly drawing players out of whatever engaging moments the game manages to generate. Every event these clips wrest from the player was an opportunity to reinforce camaraderie with actual gameplay."

The truth is slowly seeping out.
Posted 21:39 on 08 March 2008
Rogue_Soul's Avatar

Rogue_Soul

Edge magazine just gave this game a 4 / 10. Which makes VG.com's 6/10 look pretty generous ;)
Posted 20:42 on 08 March 2008
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lolatthis

Video"gamer" pfft go play halo 3 or something leave real games for real gamers
Posted 05:23 on 08 March 2008
Freshmak3r's Avatar
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Freshmak3r

"You had a bad day, hug out it bitch. Do the same review again in a week."

- Arigold


Couldn't of said it better, this reviewer is by far the most stupid I've encountered, looks like I won't be coming back to the site :(
Posted 22:41 on 07 March 2008
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brmk

huh?
Posted 19:03 on 07 March 2008
H3llra1z3r's Avatar
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H3llra1z3r

Ok! I got frustrated how the target reticule sits on the rightt, would be nice to have a button to swap from left to right. IMO this game would reach 9.0 - -9.5 if they fixed this. Pimping weapons FTW
Posted 12:07 on 07 March 2008
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Flamboastin

Its a decent game at best.. I beat it on hard in 5 n a half hours.. Im tired of games like Frontlines: FOW and COD4 who have these short singleplayer modes then rely on the multiplayer to make up for it, and in this case AO2 multiplayer sort of does.. Its fun, but defantly more agervating then fun.. If i could go back in time i wouldnt have bought the game and jus saved my money for Condemned 2, but i cant.. So ill tell you guys this, RENT IT FIRST, then if you like it buy it.. But for most it'll be a total disapointment/letdown.
Posted 04:57 on 07 March 2008
NinetiesKid's Avatar

NinetiesKid

From what I've played so far I'd say an 8/10 would have been about right. The controls feel so smooth and fluid and they were my one worry about the game but it plays so much better than it looks in the videos. Definitely glad I purchased this. Also, people worried about aiming and accuracy with the guns - it's actually a really good balance like if you fire in bursts it's accurate but the recoil is realistic so if you're just spitting the bullets out it's harder to aim but it feels real. I don't know if people are worried about this actually maybe it was just me but in gameplay videos on gametrailers it looked really hard to aim it's not I just think the people who were playing it must have been bad :p
Posted 23:09 on 06 March 2008
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kevin

im sorry but yall are dumb..u must have sucked at tha game or sumthin cause it is way better than a six..being serious if yall give this a six then you should stop rating video games
Posted 22:22 on 06 March 2008
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lastdual

Someone's been playing too much COD.

Unlike that game, in AO2 you don't constantly have to look down the sights in order to shoot straight. Guns are actually effective shooting normally, and even blindfire is very accurate compared to other games. This slower-moving aiming retical when looking down the sights is not an issue at all and actually balances the gameplay.

Sorry, but some of the control issues mentioned here are more about the reviewer's personal preferences than actual faults.
Posted 15:58 on 06 March 2008
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baccardi84

seriously, a lot of the complaints here are just as valid in any other FPS, but you punish Ao2 as if it's the only one that does it.
The enemies all look the same? sorry, they do in ever single fps ever made, even your beloved gears of war and halo.
game play gets repetative? sorry, all games are repetative.
movement is slow in precision mode? sorry, all fps's do this.
characters should be more serious? you don't like high-fives? sorry, it's a game, and it's not based in realism.
sounds like you had a hard time playing and didn't take the time to get better. too bad for you. i played with a friend and had a great time. just as fun as halo or gears of war, just not as polished. just as those games are overrated, this one has been underrated by you.
Posted 07:38 on 06 March 2008
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AriGold

You had a bad day, hug out it bitch. Do the same review again in a week.
Posted 02:49 on 06 March 2008
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Angel

I like this review it shows indeph detail on the negatives of the game and thats what I was needing to find. ALl I could find is mostly the greatness of the game and I know it isnt perfect so I appreciate this review.
Posted 02:10 on 06 March 2008

Game Stats

6
Out of 10
Army of Two
  • Solid visuals
  • The aggro system is great
  • Lacks spectacle
  • Awkward controls
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 07/03/2008
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360
Developer: EA Montréal
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 4,366 9
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